Install escape devices on fishing gear: Sea turtles
Overall effectiveness category Awaiting assessment
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
Aquatic reptiles may become trapped or entangled in fishing nets (e.g. trawl nets, hoop nets, fyke nets) and traps. Escape devices such as escape holes, sections of larger mesh, or chimneys may be fitted to fishing gear to allow non-target animals to escape after they have entered fishing gear.
Due to the number of studies found, this action has been split by species group. See here for: Tortoises, terrapins, side-necked & softshell turtles; Snakes & lizards or Crocodilians.
For studies that discuss the effect of using devices that exclude reptiles from fishing gear, see Install exclusion devices on fishing gear, and for studies on the effect of using a combination of exclusion and escape devices see Install exclusion and escape devices on fishing gear.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A randomized, paired, controlled study in 1995–1995 in seabed areas in the Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia (Brewer et al. 1998) found that trawl nets fitted with one of seven escape zone designs (“bycatch reduction devices”) caught similar numbers of sea turtles compared to unmodified nets. No statistical tests were carried out. Nets fitted with escape zones caught turtles at a similar rate (0.14 turtles/tow, 17 individuals) as unmodified nets (0.13 turtles/tow, 9 individuals). The unwanted catch included three species of turtles and three of snakes. The effect of escape zones on the commercially targeted prawn catch varied by design (see original paper for details). Escape zone designs tested included ‘fisheye’, ‘radial escape section’, ‘square mesh window’ and square mesh windows fitted with a number of modifications (see original paper for details). Vessels towed twin Florida Flyer prawn trawl nets from each side of the vessel in trials of one-month duration (sea turtles: February and October 1995). Nets fitted with one of the designs of escape zone and an unmodified net were randomly assigned to either side of the vessel.Study and other actions tested